The second-seeded Wisconsin Badgers clearly headline NCAA Tournament weekend at the BMO Harris Bradley Center, but there are three other games and seven other teams that will tip off in Milwaukee.
Here is a look at the four games today, some key players and what to watch.
No. 2 University of Wisconsin Badgers (26-7) vs. No. 15 American University Eagles (20-12), 11:40 a.m.
This could be one of the slowest moving and lowest scoring games of the entire NCAA Tournament, as the Patriot League Tournament champion Eagles come in holding teams to just 58.6 points per game, good for eighth in the nation. Wisconsin allows just 64.6 points per game, which ranks 48th.
American employs the Princeton offense, moving the ball around and looking for high percentage shots. Their top three scorers – 6-foot, 5-inch guard Jesse Reed (51.2), 6-10 center Tony Wroblicky (58.8) and 5-9 guard Darius Gardner (51.9) – seemingly never miss when they decide to shoot. As a team, the Eagles are seventh in the nation in shooting at 49.5 percent.
The Badgers are scoring more often this year at 73.5 points per game and are led by 7-foot big man Frank Kaminsky (13.6 points, 6.4 rebounds), 6-1 guard Ben Brust (12.9 points, 4.6 rebounds) and 6-8 forward Sam Dekker (12.7 points, 6.2 rebounds).
No. 7 University of Oregon Ducks (23-9) vs. No. 10 Brigham Young University Cougars (23-11), 2:10 p.m.
This is a game that should be the complete opposite of the Wisconsin-American game, at least offensively, as the Cougars are third in the nation in scoring at 84.2 points per game and the Ducks are 11th at 81.8.
Oregon has been one of the more up-and-down teams overall in college basketball this year, starting 13-0, the falling to 15-8, and then winning eight straight before falling to UCLA in the Pac-12 tournament. They are led by 6-2 guard Joseph Young (18.6 points), 6-8 senior forward Mike Moser (13.5 points, 8 rebounds) and fellow 6-2 guard Jason Calliste (12.4 points).
The game is also a homecoming for 6-6 forward Elgin Cook, who played at Hamilton. He plays 16.3 minutes per game and scores just over six points a game.
The Cougars like to shoot, but they are also adept at tracking down misses. They are sixth in the country in rebounding, at 41.2 per game. They don’t really like to play defense, preferring to outscore teams behind three guards, beginning with 6-5 junior Tyler Haws, who enters the tournament scoring 23.4 points per game. Guards Kyle Collinsworth (13.0) and Matt Carlino (13.7) also average over double digits.
No. 2 University of Michigan Wolverines (25-8) vs. No. 15 Wofford College Terriers (20-12), 6:10 p.m.
We’ll get to the Wolverines later, as many in Wisconsin are already familiar with the Big Ten regular season champs and Big Ten tournament runner-up. Wofford (pronounced Wah-ford), which is located in Spartanburg, S.C., is making its third straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament after winning the Southern Conference.
Wofford makes its bones on defense – allowing just 62.4 points per game, good for 23rd in the nation. They’re also hot, having gone 13-2 since Jan. 20. Junior guard Karl Cochran leads the team in scoring at 15.7 points per game while sophomore guard Spencer Collins is second at 12.8 points per game.
The Wolverines, who are heavy favorites and a Final Four contender, are led by Nick Stauskas (17.5 points per game), Caris LeVert (13.3) and Glenn Robinson III (13.0). Before losing to Michigan State in the Big Ten tournament championship game, the Wolverines had won seven straight after their Feb. 16 loss to the Badgers.
No. 7 University of Texas Longhorns (23-10) vs. No. 10 Arizona State University Sun Devils (21-11), 8:40 p.m.
The Longhorns come in after an uneven finish to the season, having gone 5-6 since Feb. 8. But, they are consistent on the glass, ranking fourth in the country in rebounds with 41.8 per game. They are also sixth in the country in blocks with 6.0 per game. That’s because they’re led by 6-8, 240-pound Jonathan Holmes (13.0 points, 7.2 rebounds) and 6-9, 285-pound Cameron Ridley (11.2, 8.1) down low.
Basketball fans in Milwaukee may remember the Sun Devils from their 79-77 win over Marquette University on Nov. 25, but they too have struggled down the stretch, losing five of their last seven. Jahii Carson, just 5-10, might be one of the more dynamic players in the city this weekend, averaging 18.6 points per game. Fellow guard Jermaine Marshall sports more size at 6-4, and averages 15 points per game.
Jim Owczarski is an award-winning sports journalist and comes to Milwaukee by way of the Chicago Sun-Times Media Network.
A three-year Wisconsin resident who has considered Milwaukee a second home for the better part of seven years, he brings to the market experience covering nearly all major and college sports.
To this point in his career, he has been awarded six national Associated Press Sports Editors awards for investigative reporting, feature writing, breaking news and projects. He is also a four-time nominee for the prestigious Peter J. Lisagor Awards for Exemplary Journalism, presented by the Chicago Headline Club, and is a two-time winner for Best Sports Story. He has also won numerous other Illinois Press Association, Illinois Associated Press and Northern Illinois Newspaper Association awards.
Jim's career started in earnest as a North Central College (Naperville, Ill.) senior in 2002 when he received a Richter Fellowship to cover the Chicago White Sox in spring training. He was hired by the Naperville Sun in 2003 and moved on to the Aurora Beacon News in 2007 before joining OnMilwaukee.com.
In that time, he has covered the events, news and personalities that make up the PGA Tour, LPGA Tour, Major League Baseball, the National Football League, the National Hockey League, NCAA football, baseball and men's and women's basketball as well as boxing, mixed martial arts and various U.S. Olympic teams.
Golf aficionados who venture into Illinois have also read Jim in GOLF Chicago Magazine as well as the Chicago District Golfer and Illinois Golfer magazines.